Board of Ed. adds spending, holds off on 1-percent salary increases

The Board of Education voted to shift money around to make “budget enhancements,” but held off on whether or not to give a 1-percent salary bump to staff or to rehire some assistant principals at the high schools.

The proposed spending increases originally put forth by Superintendent Jody Barrow included those increases, but he said he wanted to wait until the board’s November or December meeting to “gather more data” before putting those items to a vote.

The “enhancements” were expected to cost just under $2 million annually, but will be implemented mid-year. The two priciest items were salaries/benefits for 19 new paraprofessionals ($364,058) and an increase in operations expenditures of $425,000. Barrow said those added funds will pay for supplies and materials.

Other expenditures included instructional software ($100,000), Professional Development ($50,000), and supplements for high school “Additional Instructional Segments” ($48,320).

Those supplements, which allow teachers to teach an extra class beyond the standard five out of seven periods, drew some comment form board members.

Finance Director Tom Gray said the added supplements were an expansion of what the system had already been doing in allowing some teachers to teach an extra class in CTAE (Career, Technical and Adult Education).

Barrow said the added supplements only applied to the secondary level and was “not a mandate.” He said it would give administrators more flexibility and suggested some teachers “would like the extra revenue” for teaching an extra period.

Board Member Leonard Presberg said he would prefer to see the system hire more full-time teachers rather than have more current teachers take on an extra class.

Barrow agreed that the ideal would be to have more full-time teachers, but said the district has to “really look at the numbers. I suspect that’s one of the things we’ll be closely looking at.”

In the four high schools that operate on a seven period day (McIntosh has six periods plus an option “zero” period), teachers generally teach for five, then use the other two for planning and “professional learning” in which teachers in similar subject areas come together for a period to collaborate and share ideas.

Barrow explained Tuesday that the added supplements essentially allow some teachers to be paid to teach one more class in favor of having a planning period during the school day.

“What we’re doing there in essence is buying their planning time,” Barrow said. “That seventh period is really still supposed to be about professional learning.”

Barrow said the idea is to give more options for ” for the teacher that wants to earn a little more money and help the school out with the master schedule.”

As for the 1-percent raise and added assistant principals, Barrow said he expected to bring a recommendation to the board by its November meeting or perhaps December “at the latest.”

The expenditures approved Monday take effect Nov. 1. They did not require a budget amendment as the district is currently around $2 million under budget, so those savings could be moved around from other areas to cover the “enhancements.”

Josh Akeman

Josh Akeman is the managing editor of the Fayette County News, Today in Peachtree City, and East Coweta Journal. He is a graduate of Fayette County High School and the University of Georgia.